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NBA League Preview: Southeast Division

September 10, 2012

Features, NBA

(Editor’s Note: For Curtis’ preview of the Central Division click here.)

Southeast Division:

Atlanta Hawks:

For better or for worse, here is a team that has made a splash this offseason with the huge trade that resulted in swingman and franchise star Joe Johnson being traded away to the Brooklyn Nets. Of course, this was a team that was trying anything they could to get Dwight Howard, so in hindsight, this trade really is not all that surprising if you sit down and think about how Atlanta’s mindset must have been. Let’s take a look at what Atlanta has done to stay relevant.

I suppose we will start with the big trade. Atlanta required several new players: guards Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar, forwards Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, and Johan Petro and a 2017 first round draft pick from the Nets. They also sent away guard Marvin Williams to Utah for point man Devin Harris. First is first, Farmar was waived rather quickly so the log jam at shooting guard/point guard is not as bad. They have a quality back up in ex-starter Jeff Teague, whose numbers are a little misleading (depending on if you are a glass half empty or half full kind of person) given that he was a back-up for the first two or so years in the league.

He finally started in the lockout shortened year of last season, and that will only make him a better player (no, I’m not saying All-Star). They now have Devin Harris starting at the point, who is an improvement over Teague. Harris has not seemed to find himself a stable spot, but I’m sure he’ll enjoy playing with franchise stars Al Horford and Josh Smith. Also, Harris has a big target in newly acquired Kyle Korver, who (in my opinion, and I’m sure I’ll whine about it given the opportunity) underachieved in Chicago. Hopefully for Hawks fans, he’ll be the marksman they need him to be. I’m sure Korver will enjoy the starting position as well.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure this team would make the playoffs when first thinking about them. It was hard to see Atlanta without Joe Johnson, but when I sat down to more or less dissect the conference and division, I noticed that while yes Johnson is gone, Atlanta has not gone away completely. I think that, especially in the east, they could and probably still will make the playoffs. Besides Miami, I’m really not sure anyone in the division itself will give the Hawks trouble (Miami should not have an issue with them, although Miami does not have a true center, more on that later though). Before anyone asks, no, I obviously do not think Atlanta can contend. They have been a regular season team for several seasons now, and always find a way to falter in the playoffs. So in the post season (provided they make it), I really do not have any faith that they will go anywhere anyway.

Charlotte Bobcats:

Oh mai (pronounced “my” incase you didn’t know). The Charlotte Bobcats are just awful. I really do not want to write more than a paragraph here, not because I personally have anything against the Bobcats, but because I wish I had great news for their fanbase. I really do. Let’s get with that the team that Jordan owns has done this offseason.

So far, that answer is not a whole lot. They did manage to bring in Ben Gordon, who is better than he played in Detroit. I’m convinced that someone who went toe-to-toe with Ray Allen at one point is not done, and I’m convinced that it wasn’t luck. Well, I may be hopeful, but I can admit that. Chicago apparently didn’t agree with me, and Detroit did. So, with his contract now dumped onto the Bobcats, maybe Gordon can finally find a reason to compete again (although, I’m not sure what that would be). A (in my opinion) not so good move they decided to part ways with point guard D.J. Augustin. In all fairness, Ramon Sessions can hold his own (more or less) and having Kemba Walker on the roster certainly doesn’t hurt.

In the draft this year, they grabbed themselves Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft, who could start immediately along side returning (and in a contract year) stretch guard Gerald Henderson, depending on the line-up’s of course.

The Bobcats line up is not terrible in all honesty, they should do better than they did last season at least (it really can only go up from there, right?). Playoff worthy? Eh… Unlikely. But you really never know. Eight teams do have to make it after all, and who cares if they’ll only win 20-30 games. The bottom of the east (which in the Eastern conference’s defense, has definitely improved) is just no where near the level of the top four or five teams. The gap is that major.

Miami Heat

I really considered writing one sentence here and moving on. “Eastern Conference Champions.” Upon thinking about it, I decided to go ahead and write somewhere and try to explain why Miami is just in an (nearly) unstoppable position.

Let’s start with the offseason. Miami is bringing in the all time leader in three pointers made in Ray Allen. I suppose that cannot really be understated. Can we imagine for a moment if Mike Miller does return? (At the moment, I’m not sure if he is, but if he is….) Mike Miller is part of the reason that Miami beat the Thunder in five games. If not for his three-pointers as a contribution, maybe it would have went to six or even seven. Maybe, just maybe, Miami would have lost. Sure, there were other factors in that series but realistically, Miami won so dominantly because of how they shot behind the arc. With a bench line-up of Ray Allen AND Mike Miller, they are very scary.

Talk about stretching the floor. No team will make you play all 94 feet of the court more than this team. Let’s not forget Shane Battier is returning as well. Not only was he an amazing defender, but he found the long-ball again as well. Seriously. This team is going to stretch the floor so well. Also, they have signed ex-Magic star Rashard Lewis who will back up LeBron James at small forward. He can play big minutes as well, and is a starter anywhere else. The price you pay for a trophy (or chance to win one).

Let’s be honest though: you live by the three, you’ll die by the three. Miami has more than just a three-ball, right? LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh definitely prove that. Not that neither of these players cannot hit the three, but realistically they rely on getting to the basket or shooting mid-range jumpers (more so the back two as opposed to LeBron). This team can score at will, and can defend exceptionally well. LeBron and Wade are superstars and are all-star defenders. The Heat are a bit undersized though, and that’s not the only thing that could cause some issues. There’s only one seven footer on the roster, and he’s a rookie. Dexter Pittman is listed at 6’11” and is the only true center on the roster. The counter-argument here is easy: several players on this team can switch positions, and they won without a true center last season.

Allow me to point out the one thing that could inevitably cause a Miami Heat to fall are injuries. This team is full of members that, in the past have been plagued by injuries. Ray Allen, and Mike Miller specifically come to mind. An injury to one of them (just one) probably is not as big of a deal now that there are several more threats on this team than previously thought.

Provided this team stays healthy enough in the playoffs, I could see them sweeping through the conference on route to another championship. No one in the east can quite match up with them, and arguably the only team that can match up well with them (Lakers) has not even been together on the court this season. We can speculate what everyone is going to do, or how they are going to play. For the most part though, it’s difficult to imagine Miami not playing like they played last season. Could they jeopardize the 72 win season that Jordan’s Bulls had? In theory yes, but why bother if they can rest a little and still win the championship? I could answer my own question, but I’ll leave it open for your own ideas.

Orlando Magic:

I pretty much covered how I thought Orlando would fair in my Dwight Howard trade article a few weeks ago, but I’ll run through my thoughts real quick in case you missed it. (If you did, shame on you.)

I don’t see Orlando doing a whole lot this season. With a projected starting line-up that includes: Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Aaron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu, Gustavo Ayon, and the oft injured Jameer Nelson, I’m pretty sure this is hard to argue against. It’s difficult to see this line-up contending with anyone other than Charlotte maybe, and contending against the bottom is not really contending.

Sorry Orlando, but you at least have several good draft picks in great places. So hope for some amazing depth in a draft or two and you could contend in just a few years again. Building through the draft is more a more surefire way of bringing in talent (see: OKC, IND). Until then, misery loves company.

Washington Wizards:

Here’s an interesting team with a bit of young talent. Washington has an interesting projected starting line-up in my opinion. Of course you are going to have phenom John Wall starting at the point. That is great news for Wizard fans because Wall is constantly improving and plays very much like All-Star point guard Derrick Rose. Wall is developing quickly as well. Joining him is a once former NBA champion and excellent defender in Trevor Ariza.

While Ariza has not been amazing as of the past few reasons, he really has not needed to be. He was not in a position to succeed and really is not in a position to succeed right now. He may not be trying as hard, but that is not something I can really prove. Not that I would really blame him. Anyway, at center is a somewhat reliable Emeka Okafor. More known for his time in New Orleans, he comes to Washington hoping to relieve some pressure off of strong point guard John Wall. I’m not sure that is not it’s going to work, but you never know until the season progresses however. Moving on, at power forward we have Nene. I am completely all right with that. He was an oft injured player in Denver, but when playing was seemingly reliable. Provided he can stay healthy, maybe he will help this team out. Realistically though, he probably could not really hurt the team.

As for free-agency signings, they were pretty (as of now) lackluster. Martell Webster and A.J. Price are the only “key signings” this team has had I suppose. I am not really surprised though. Not much of a reason to come play in Washington.

Post-season: what about it? Washington used to be a (moderate) playoff team but that was back when Gilbert Arenas was “Agent Zero”, and LeBron was still a Cavalier. I do not see them making the playoffs this season but I suppose that like I stated earlier, eight teams have to make it, right?

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About Curtis Dasch

Curtis Dasch is currently a student at Bowling Green State University, majoring in English. He is a go-to for NBA opinions and knowledge of the intangibles, but enjoys most sports in general. Considered a "jack-of-all-trades," he also hosts a weekly gaming podcast known as Satellite Gaming's Satellcasts.

View all posts by Curtis Dasch

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4 Comments on “NBA League Preview: Southeast Division”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. NBA League Preview: Southwest Division | TheFarmClub.net - October 4, 2012

    […] more reviews, check out the Southeast, Central, Atlantic, Pacific Division reviews by Curtis Dasch. Rate this:Share […]

  2. NBA League Preview: Pacific Division | TheFarmClub.net - September 25, 2012

    […] Note: Check out Curtis’ preview of the Southeast, Central, and Atlantic Divisions of The NBA. Rate this:Share […]

  3. NBA Preview of the Eastern Conference: Atlantic Division | TheFarmClub.net - September 17, 2012

    […] note: Curtis’ previews of the Southeast and Central […]

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